Students Unite for the 'Real Food Challenge

Students Unite for the "Real Food Challenge"

Thursday, September 27, 2012 by

Pizza, beer, ramen noodles—yep that about sums up the diet of a typical college student these days. Short on both cash and time, students take what they can get in the way of sustenance, no matter how bad for them it really is. The more we learn about nutrition and our bodies, the more we realize just how damaging habits such as these are. Sure, it's likely that these are only temporary routines that will eradicate themselves upon graduation, but there's a chance they won't. And then what are we left with? A society of out-of-shape, malnourished individuals eating themselves into an early grave.

Luckily, knowledge is indeed proving powerful as more and more students and individuals everywhere are taking a stand against this less than beneficial trend. One example of this is the Real Food Challenge in which numerous students are participating.

Serving as both a campaign and a network, the challenge's main mission is to increase the procurement of, and therefore availability of, real food on college and university campuses everywhere. They have set a national goal to hit 20% real food by 2020, which will hopefully then make waves for the food industry as a whole, as it's obviously not a problem on just the college level.

What is "Real Food"?

It's believed that presently less than 2% of our nation's food economy consists of "real food"—a problem that must be corrected if we hope to see any real change as a society. But what exactly is this "real food" about which everyone's talking?

Known as other names as well such as "slow," "local," or "green," real food is food that is humane, local, ecologically sound and fair. It is not artificial in any way and generally makes a trip straight from the farm to plate. There is no intricate processing involved, it's just good old fashioned nourishing sustenance—a far cry from the processed junk that makes up so much of our diet these days.

How Does the Challenge Work

From the development of college farms, fair trade initiatives and "Farm-to-cafeteria" programs, many institutions of higher learning are making conscious changes for the future. Currently, the challenge's organizers have coordinated informational summits, trainings, and campus visits to spread awareness of their cause.

Currently, over 360 schools across the country are participating, and as student leaders and campaign directors continue their efforts that number is only expected to grow. While it may not seem like the participants are doing much, taking the time and investing the effort to get the word out is what needs to happen at this point. People have to first be informed before they can make smarter decisions—and that's the primary driving force behind this initiative's organizers.

Getting the next generation of leaders and policy makers involved is crucial to making and long-term, substantial change, hence the importance of starting this on the college front.

Lauren Bailey is a freelance blogger who loves writing about education, writing, and health. As an education writer, she works to provide helpful information on the best online colleges and courses. She welcomes comments and questions via email at blauren 99